Government to let Cubans travel freely - New York News

Government to let Cubans travel freely

Posted: Updated:
A woman, who makes money posing for tourists, holds an oversized cigar as she waits for customers, in Havana, Cuba.  (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa) A woman, who makes money posing for tourists, holds an oversized cigar as she waits for customers, in Havana, Cuba. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

HAVANA (AP) -- The Cuban government announced Tuesday that it will no longer require islanders to apply for an exit visa, eliminating a much-loathed bureaucratic procedure that has been a major impediment for many seeking to travel overseas for more than a half-century.

A notice published in Communist Party newspaper Granma said the change takes effect Jan. 14, and beginning on that date islanders will only have to show their passport and a visa from the country they are traveling to.

It is the most significant advance this year in President Raul Castro's five-year plan of reform that has already seen the legalization of home and car sales and a big increase in the number of Cubans owning private businesses.

"As part of the work under way to update the current migratory policy and adjust it to the conditions of the present and the foreseeable future, the Cuban government, in exercise of its sovereignty, has decided to eliminate the procedure of the exit visa for travel to the exterior," read the notice.

Migration is a highly politicized issue in Cuba and beyond its borders.

Under the "wet foot, dry foot" policy, the United States allows nearly all Cubans who reach its territory to remain. Granma published an accompanying editorial blaming the travel restrictions on U.S. attempts to topple the island's government, plant spies and recruit its best-educated citizens.

"It is because of this that any analysis of Cuba's problematic migration inevitably passes through the policy of hostility that the U.S. government has developed against the country for more than 50 years," the editorial said.

It assured Cubans that the government recognizes their right to travel abroad and said the new measure is part of "an irreversible process of normalization of relations between emigrants and their homeland."

On the streets of Havana, the news was met with a mixture of delight and astonishment, after all the previous times over the years when officials spoke of their desire to lift the exit visa, but talk failed to turn into concrete change.

"No! Wow, how great!" said Mercedes Delgado, a 73-year-old retiree when told of the news that was announced overnight. "Citizens' rights are being restored."

"Look, I ask myself how far are we going to go with these changes. They have me a little confused because now all that was done during 50 years, it turns out we're changing it," said Maria Romero, a cleaning worker who was headed to her job Tuesday morning. "Everything they told us then, it wasn't true. I tell you, I don't understand anything."

The move eliminates a restriction in place since 1961, the height of the Cold War, requiring Cubans to get approval from their government for permission to leave their own country.

Cubans now will also not have to present the long-required letter of invitation from a foreign institution or person in the country they plan to visit.

The measure also extends to 24 months the amount of time Cubans can remain abroad, and they can request an extension when that runs out. Currently, Cubans lose residency and other rights including social security and free health care and education after 11 months.

Still, the notice said Cuba plans to put limits on travel within unspecified sectors.

Doctors, scientists, members of the military and others considered valuable parts of society currently face restrictions on travel to combat brain drain.

"The update to the migratory policy takes into account the right of the revolutionary State to defend itself from the interventionist and subversive plans of the U.S. government and its allies," the note said. "Therefore, measures will remain to preserve the human capital created by the Revolution in the face of the theft of talent applied by the powerful."

Cuba has on some occasions denied exit visas to government when they sought to travel abroad, and dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez said she has been turned down 20 times over the last five years.

"I have the suitcase ready to travel. ... Let's see if I get a flight for Jan. 14, 2013, to try out the new law.

But she expressed concern that officials might now control travel merely by denying passports.

Granma's editorial said the measure will help address the needs of the Cuban diaspora.

More than 1 million people of Cuban origin live in the United States, and thousands more are in Europe.

 

  • New Jersey NewsNew Jersey NewsMore>>

  • Some Showboat workers get new jobs within company

    Some Showboat workers get new jobs within company

    Friday, August 29 2014 2:54 PM EDT2014-08-29 18:54:36 GMT
    More than 470 of the 2,000-plus workers at Atlantic City's Showboat Casino Hotel have found new jobs with other casinos owned by its parent company. The Showboat is shutting down Sunday afternoon after 27 years on the Boardwalk.
    More than 470 of the 2,000-plus workers at Atlantic City's Showboat Casino Hotel have found new jobs with other casinos owned by its parent company. The Showboat is shutting down Sunday afternoon after 27 years on the Boardwalk.
  • NJ girl accidentally kills gun instructor

    NJ girl accidentally kills gun instructor

    Friday, August 29 2014 1:24 PM EDT2014-08-29 17:24:19 GMT
    A 9-year-old girl from New Jersey accidentally killed an Arizona shooting instructor as he was showing her how to use a fully automatic Uzi. Charles Vacca, 39, was standing next to the girl at the Last Stop outdoor shooting range when she pulled the trigger and the recoil sent the gun over her head, investigators said.
    A 9-year-old girl from New Jersey accidentally killed an Arizona shooting instructor as he was showing her how to use a fully automatic Uzi. Charles Vacca, 39, was standing next to the girl at the Last Stop outdoor shooting range when she pulled the trigger and the recoil sent the gun over her head, investigators said.
  • Victim's family feels sorry for girl who shot him

    Victim's family feels sorry for girl who shot him

    Friday, August 29 2014 1:19 PM EDT2014-08-29 17:19:45 GMT
    The ex-wife of an Arizona shooting range instructor accidentally killed by a 9-year-old girl learning to use an Uzi said Friday that her family plans to write the child a letter to comfort her.  Instructor Charles Vacca was standing next to the girl on Monday at the Last Stop range in White Hills, Arizona, about 60 miles south of Las Vegas, when she squeezed the trigger.
    The ex-wife of an Arizona shooting range instructor accidentally killed by a 9-year-old girl learning to use an Uzi said Friday that her family plans to write the child a letter to comfort her.  Instructor Charles Vacca was standing next to the girl on Monday at the Last Stop range in White Hills, Arizona, about 60 miles south of Las Vegas, when she squeezed the trigger.
  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • Taxi hits and kills woman in Manhattan

    Taxi hits and kills woman in Manhattan

    Friday, August 29 2014 4:10 PM EDT2014-08-29 20:10:50 GMT
    A taxicab slammed into a woman on the Upper East Side, killing her, police said. The cab, driven by a 30-year-old man, made a left turn onto East 79 Street from Madison Avenue and hit the woman, who was trying to cross the street, the NYPD said.
    A taxicab slammed into a woman on the Upper East Side, killing her, police said. The cab, driven by a 30-year-old man, made a left turn onto East 79 Street from Madison Avenue and hit the woman, who was trying to cross the street, the NYPD said.
  • NYC Denny's features $300 breakfast

    NYC Denny's features $300 breakfast

    Friday, August 29 2014 4:04 PM EDT2014-08-29 20:04:13 GMT
    Diner chain Denny's is opening it's first New York City location, complete with a big-city "deal".   How does a $300 breakfast sound?    The Denny's is located at the corner of Nassau and Spruce in Lower Manhattan's Financial District.  Along with its normal food you can get at just about any location in the rest of the country, this location will offer a Grand Slam breakfast with a bottle of 2003 Dom Perignon champagne.
    Diner chain Denny's is opening it's first New York City location, complete with a big-city "deal".   How does a $300 breakfast sound?    The Denny's is located at the corner of Nassau and Spruce in Lower Manhattan's Financial District.  Along with its normal food you can get at just about any location in the rest of the country, this location will offer a Grand Slam breakfast with a bottle of 2003 Dom Perignon champagne.
  • FDNY academy takes steps to curb MRSA outbreak

    FDNY academy takes steps to curb MRSA outbreak

    Friday, August 29 2014 3:32 PM EDT2014-08-29 19:32:38 GMT
    FDNYFDNY
    The Fire Department of New York is taking steps to prevent infection after more than a dozen probationary firefighters were diagnosed with the drug-resistant staph infection called MRSA. Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said a specialized cleaning company will disinfect showers and other high-risk areas at the fire academy at Randall's Island over the Labor Day weekend.
    The Fire Department of New York is taking steps to prevent infection after more than a dozen probationary firefighters were diagnosed with the drug-resistant staph infection called MRSA. Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said a specialized cleaning company will disinfect showers and other high-risk areas at the fire academy at Randall's Island over the Labor Day weekend.
Powered by WorldNow
Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices